No special Milan treatment for Messi

Bet on the Champions LeagueAC Milan captain Massimo Ambrosini insists they will not man-mark Lionel Messi in Tuesday’s Champions League clash and will face Barcelona with “courage” (Barca 1/4, Milan 11/1, draw 5/1 Match Prices – bet365).

The two giants of European football face each other in the second leg of their quarter-final tie with honours even after the first-leg stalemate at the San Siro.

That would normally mean it was advantage to the away team for the second leg as an away goal would force the hosts to score twice to progress.

But such is the Catalans? fire-power that they are red-hot favourites to make the last four despite a failure to score in Italy last week (Barca 2/11, Milan 7/2 To Qualify – bet365).

Messi is the man who has dominated proceedings all season for Barca and, despite coach Pep Guardiola possessing a star-studded squad, he is the man that Milan fear.

But Ambrosini is adamant that they will not assign one player to sit on the diminutive Argentinian throughout the 90 minutes.

“Messi is a unique player with the ball at his feet; one cannot think of trying to stop him,” he said. “So, I do not think we will assign someone with the role of stopping him.”

Many pundits have already written of Milan?s chances of getting the result they need to move into the semi-finals but Ambrosini is targeting a rousing performance to achieve the victory that they need to remain in the competition.

“We must face them with courage otherwise this game will be very hard,” he added. “It is great to be here but the intention is to go through.”

Allegri – Gunners need to spend

AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri has piled the pressure on Arsenal ahead of their Champions League second leg clash on Tuesday by claiming they lack leaders and will never become European champions unless they spend big (Arsenal 11/10  draw 5/2 AC Milan 12/5 90 minute match prices – bet365).

The Serie A giants (12/1 to win the Champions League – bet365) carry a commanding 4-0 lead into Tuesday?s clash at the Emirates following a dominant performance in the first game at the San Siro last month.

The Gunners were heavily criticised for their display in Italy, while boss Arsene Wenger has come under growing pressure from the supporters, who are frustrated at the club’s failure to win a trophy since the FA Cup in 2005.

The fans have also grown restless with the Frenchman’s apparent reluctance to spend significant sums on established players, with Wenger preferring where possible to develop players as youngsters.

With the Gunners out of the FA Cup and the Premier League title race the Champions League represents their only chance of silverware this season, but that would require a remarkable turnaround on Tuesday – they are a massive 25/1 with bet365 to qualify for the next round.

Speaking ahead of the match, Allegri, who led Milan to the Serie A title in his first season in charge last year, feels Arsenal have to spend big in order to be within a chance of winning silverware once more.

“For me it’s impossible to win the title or Champions League without signing big players,” Allegri told The Sun. “You will never do it without big players. That goes for Arsenal, Milan or any big club. You must buy big.”

“I have a strong team but in that I have three big players, bringing experience, character, technical ability and leadership. You need leaders.

“It’s not fair to criticise Wenger so much and it is not right, because every year Arsenal sell one big player or two big players and the team still manage to play well and finish in the top four.

“But it’s also true that if they want to win trophies they have to keep their best players. And make two or three big signings. If somebody told me this summer we have to sell Zlatan [Ibrahimovic] and Prince [Boateng] I would say no. No. Noooo…”

Cautious Deschamps eyes clean sheet

Goals could be at a premium in the clash between Marseille and Inter Milan with the French side’s boss Didier Deschamps set to adopt a ‘cautious’ approach to the Champions League encounter (Under 2.5 Goals 4/7 with bet365).

Marseille go into Wednesday’s game as favourites to win on the night, given the fact they are on a decent run of form and Inter have hit the buffers domestically. L’OM have won five of their past six Ligue 1 matches and are currently fourth in the French top-flight standings.

Conversely, Claudio Ranieri’s side have now started to stumble and, after rallying to seven consecutive Serie A victories following a poor start to the season, they have little chance of challenging for the Scudetto given the fact that they trail league-leading AC Milan by 16 points.

Despite Inter’s domestic woes, Deschamps is expecting the Italians to provide his men with a stiff test at the Stade Velodrome.

“The quality of play Inter show in this match will be different to that which they have displayed in the Italian league,” he said. “Their attitude will be different.”

The former Chelsea star knows that it will be tough to get a result in the return leg at the San Siro and feels it is imperative not to concede a goal and take a lead back to Italy.

“We will have to be very cautious,” he added. “Our aim is to take the advantage before going to San Siro.”

AVB upbeat for CL chances

Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas refuses to write off the club’s chances of winning the Champions League if they can first get past a tough-looking Napoli side (Chelsea 14/1 Champions League Outright with bet365).

The Blues head to Naples on Tuesday for the first leg of their last-16 tie with the Serie A outfit in the middle of a dreadful run of results and confidence low at the club (Napoli 11/8, Chelsea 11/5, draw 21/10 Match Prices with bet365).

Pressure has been mounting on Villas-Boas for some time as the Stamford Bridge outfit have no chance of winning the Premier League title this term and have looked a shadow of the side that dominated the English game under Jose Mourinho.

They could only manage a 1-1 draw with Championship side Birmingham City in Sunday’s FA Cup fifth round match and are the underdogs to beat Napoli on Tuesday night at the Stadio San Paolo.

But the Portuguese tactician remains upbeat about their chances and believes that victory over the Italians could give his side an excellent opportunity to go far in the competition this season.

“If you go past Napoli then you can have a really good chance, depending on who you get in the draw – if you get a good draw,” he said.

However, the former Porto boss admits he is under no illusions as to how difficult it will be to get past a Napoli side who are starting to find their form again.

“It will be a massive challenge,” he added. “Everyone saw what Napoli did in a group which put another English team out.”

Goals could flow in Florence

Bet on Serie AFiorentina (7/5 – Match Result with bet365) will provide title-chasing Udinese (2/1, draw 11/5) with a stern test in Sunday’s Serie A clash, as the visitors are likely to be without several key players.

Diego Fabbrini, Andrea Coda, Paulo Barreto and Gianpiero Pinzi are all unlikely to feature for Udinese, while defender Danilo is banned.

Iconic striker Antonio Di Natale should start, while Moroccan defender Mehdi Benatia is available again after returning from international duty at the Africa Cup of Nations.

The Friulani closed to within two points of AC Milan with their midweek 2-1 win over Lecce and their home form – which has seen them win ten and draw one this season – has never been in doubt.

Udine’s away form has been less reliable with one point from the last three matches and Sunday’s venue, the Stadio Franchi, has not been kind to the Friulani and last season they lost 5-2 there.

Udinese have lost their last three in Florence, conceding 13 goals and scoring just five and La Viola are in the mood to prolong their misery – having rested in midweek when their clash with Bologna was called off.

Stevan Jovetic is likely to continue his partnership in attack with new signing Amauri, but Ruben Olivera, who also joined in the transfer window, cannot play his first game for the Viola because of suspension.

Per Kroldrup is unable face his former club due to a long-term injury.